Death Sentence: Panda!

Hardcore, Chinese and Korean folk, and marching band sounds are all pitched into the trio's dissonant sonic miasma

PREVIEW Who can bring together Bay Area noise-improv scene and tween mixtapes? Death Sentence: Panda!, that band of merry, absurdist experimentalists that sprang from the loins of Total Shutdown, NAM, and Crack: We Are Rock. The local underground-music vets are now partying up their second long-player, Insects Awaken (Upset the Rhythm), a blistering drum-flute-clarinet-electronics-xylophone-sax tribute of sorts to the bitty critters that "swarm and have sex and then die a violent death," as flautist-multi-instrumentalist Kim West puts it.

Hardcore, Chinese and Korean folk, and marching band sounds are all pitched into the trio's dissonant sonic miasma — a blend that weirdly showed up on a mix West's public school teacher friend recently confiscated from a 14-year-old — and though it's been four years since the group formed, the noise hasn't been taken down a single notch.

"We're influenced by so many different kinds of music, whether it's more noisy or folky or hardcore-y — is hardcore-y is a word?" asks clarinet-multi-instrumentalist Paul Costuros at the ass end of a band practice before he sets off to DJ "Ska War!" at Casanova Lounge. "Our music has gotten more noisy, and we're dealing with more effects, atmosphere, and tone."

"I don't think it's noisier," responds drummer-multi-instrumentalist Chris Dixon.

"It's louder sounding," Costuros retorts.

"We were on a bunny hill before," adds Dixon, "and now we're on Twin Peaks."

"We were elves, and now we're eating dragons."

Death Sentence: Panda!'s U.K. label — which released its 2005 Puppy, Kitty or Both 10-inch and 2007 Festival of Ghosts album — needed little prodding. "We told them it was done before it was started," Costuros explains. The occasion? "It was for Chinese New Year," jokes West, who also plays in T.I.T.S. But seriously, "we were entering into a different realm of music-making, and we wanted to record that. Songs got longer, and I think it's a little more dramatic and more dynamic and not as cute and short and still a little tough."

"It redefines the genre of clarinet-flute-drum music," Costuros notes wryly.

DEATH SENTENCE: PANDA! With These Are Powers and Work. Sat/14, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923,

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